Antrim hold off Fermanagh comeback

June 2nd, 2014


Antrim won a dramatic Ulster SFC tie at Brewster Park on Sunday afternoon, needing a heroic goal-line clearance from defender Kevin O’Boyle to beat Fermanagh in the end.

The Saffrons were the dominant side and looked to have won the game twice, only for Fermanagh to finish strong in both halves.

Antrim led by 1-10 to 0-1 after 32 minutes, Man of the Match Brian Neeson with the goal on the half hour mark. Fermanagh hit back with an unanswered 1-4 before the interval, Sean Quigley fisting a goal to the net after 34 minutes, to trail by 1-10 to 1-5 at the break.

Paul McCusker’s point immediately after the restart reduced the deficit to four, before the momentum swung back in Antrim’s favour.

Liam Bradley’s side, who lost Conor Murray and James Laverty to black cards in each half, seized the initiative again with a point from Neeson and a crucial goal from Kevin Niblock in the 39th minute.

Substitute Ryan Murray scored two fine points and Neeson was on fire with three second-half points as Antrim stretched clear again.

The visitors looked to have won the match for a second time when they led by 2-17 to 1-9 with 53 minutes played, but then the tide turned again.

Sean Quigley reduced the gap with a couple of close-range frees and a mistake by the Antrim defence allowed Barry Owens, who moved from full-back to full-forward, to blast the ball into the far corner of the net in the 62nd minute.

It still looked like Antrim’s game, with Quigley and Neeson trading scores, until injury-time when Fermanagh substitute Marty O’Brien capitalised on another Antrim turnover in their own defence, and found the net.

Eamon Maguire’s pass across was buried to the net by O’Brien in the second minute of injury-time and the home supporters in the 8,265 attendance sensed there was time for one last moment of drama.

Fermanagh won the kickout and charged forward, with Ryan McCluskey’s shot brilliantly kicked off the line by O’Boyle.

Antrim will play Donegal in the Ulster semi-final on June 22.

Scorers for Fermanagh: S Quigley 1-6 (5f), M O’Brien 1-1, B Owens 1-0, P McCusker 0-3, E Donnelly, E Maguire 0-1 each, P Ward 0-1 (f)

Scorers for Antrim: B Neeson 1-6 (1f), K Niblock 1-3 (1f), T McCann 0-3 (2f), P McCann, M McCann, R Murray 0-2 each

FERMANAGH: C Snow; R McCluskey, B Owens, J Woods; D McCusker, C Cullen, T McElroy; E Donnelly, R O’Callaghan; L Cullen, R Jones, P McCusker; P Ward, S Quigley, E Maguire. Subs: M O’Brien for Woods (13), A Breen for Ward (44), M Murphy for L Cullen (44), R Corrigan for P McCusker (52), B Mulrone for C Cullen (54)

ANTRIM: P Flood; K O’Boyle, R Johnston, N Delargy; M Johnston, J Crozier, J Laverty; M McCann, M Sweeney; C Murray, K Niblock, P McCann; B Neeson, N McKeever, T McCann. Subs: M Armstrong for Murray (BC, 18), P McBride for Laverty (BC, 36), R Murray for P McCann (42), D Lynch for Armstrong (59), S McVeigh for Sweeney (67)

REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan (Down)